Thursday 14 December 2023

The Name of the Sailing Game

Let’s face it, sailing doesn’t have competitions; it has series, meetings, regattas, championships, nationals, worlds, events but not competitions. Even though they all are competitions!

So SailEvent is bowing to the inevitable and, instead of competition, in future will use a new generic term – event.

If event is good enough for the Racing Rules of Sailing then it’s good enough for us. Actually the RRS use the terms event and the clunky race or series more or less interchangeably but we need just one word. Appendix J Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions clearly says In this appendix, the term ‘event’ includes a race or series of races, so that’s the one we are going for. And event does reflect the name of our service!

Something to be aware of is that a series is, in both RRS and now SailEvent terms, an event.  So, if you have 6 races at weekly intervals that’s an event. But of course you can still call it your Spring Series!

Like the mythical country that announced it was changing from driving on the left to on the right, the move will take place gradually but it is going to happen over the Christmas period when everyone will be too busy celebrating to notice.😀


On which note, the SailEvent Team wish you a very Merry Christmas 

and a Happy New Year, both on and off the water.


Monday 27 November 2023

Build your own integrated entry form

SailEvent features basic online entry forms which work well for many events but there are times when more complexity is called for. You may, for example, want to include orders for merchandise or bookings for meals, and then calculate a total entry fee. Or you may need to know a competitor’s age category.

That’s where online form builders come in. You can use them to create just about any entry form you like and, when appropriate, accept entry fees online.

A good example is Jotform. It’s a powerful, well-featured forms app and can collect entry fees via many payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe.

And so we come to the exciting part of this post!

Jotform entry forms can now be seamlessly integrated into SailEvent. When a competitor completes a Jotform entry form they are automagically and immediately added to the corresponding SailEvent competition and they appear in the entry list. The Jotform itself is listed in your SailEvent entry forms and is subject to the same opening and closing date and max entries rules.

All you need to get started are

  • A SailEvent Plus account.
  • A Jotform account. The free Starter plan has all required features but is limited in capacity.
  • A payment gateway account such as PayPal or Stripe if you wish to take online payments.

We’ve chosen to go with Jotform initially because we know it does the job but other form builders are available. They can be added to SailEvent as custom forms however that’s not the same as full integration.  If you have a preferred option and would like it to be fully integrated then do get in touch

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Kiosk – The Nuts and Bolts and Woodscrews

The challenge – how do you make an app on a tablet computer available to several hundred people daily without them breaking it, stealing it, powering it off, switching it to another app?

The solution – inexpensive hardware and software, and woodscrews.

The venue for Chichester Harbour Race Week with its near 400 competitors is Hayling Island Sailing Club. HISC, like many a club, has a traditional outdoor wooden notice board. Originally the official notice board, but now largely superseded by online equivalents, it is remains the home of paper signing sheets.

That was clearly the place for two tablets – one for each race group.

We used Lenovo Tab M10s – 10 inch tablets running Android 11: good quality, reasonably priced and, importantly, with plenty of battery power. We installed Kiosk Browser, a mobile device manager, to run the eTally Kiosk app in Chrome.  Kiosk Browser hides most (though not quite all) Chrome and Android functions from inquisitive tappers. We applied screen protectors – thin sheets of glass – to both devices.

Connectivity came via a MiFi device in a box in an adjacent indoor area which just happened to be the snack bar.

We screwed a pair of security wall mounts to the notice board adjacent to where the paper signing sheets go.

A tablet powered on, clamped in position and ready for customers.


We’d previously briefed all competitors by email. We sat back and waited.

They took to it like the proverbial ducks to water!

I don’t know who these two gentlemen are but thank you, you look the part.

Was it perfection all the way? Not quite!

The card taped to the top of each tablet not only tells people which to use but also prevents them pulling down the Android settings and causing havoc.

The tablets on/off button needed a couple of millimetres headroom under the security clamps. One enthusiastic tapper managed to slide a tablet up enough to power it off.

A more strict implementation of Kiosk Browser will fix both of those issues.

Finally, the call went out that neither tablet was working. On investigation this was because they weren’t connected to the internet. You remember that the connectivity came via the snack bar? It turned out that someone had, entirely innocently, placed a tray of Coke cans on top of the box of tricks. Problem soon resolved!

So overall, a great success. Lessons were learned, the main one being that eTally Kiosk is a valuable addition to the SailEvent safety portfolio.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Kiosk - in at the deep end!

With an entry list of nearly 400 in a wide variety of boats, an equally wide variety of abilities and in tidal waters, Chichester Harbour Race Week has to work hard on competitor safety.

Sailing Club Software provides IT support for the event and a big part of that is keeping track of who is on, and safely off, the water. Way back that meant manually comparing multiple paper signing sheets - slow and error-prone.

More recently we’ve used eTally by phone – a great improvement that enables the Safety Officer to wrap up so much more quickly. Nevertheless paper signing sheets were retained for the small minority who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, take the technology route.

This year we introduced eTally Kiosk in the expectation it would prove an acceptable alternative for that minority. The paper sheets were still there and right next to them was Kiosk. (We’ll talk about the mechanics of that in the next post.)

When introducing new technology you can never tell whether it’s going to sink or swim. It’s was gratifying to discover that for Kiosk it was very much the latter! 

Competitors of all ages got the hang of it straight away and thought it was a great idea. 

The number of paper signers went from a diehard handful on day 1 to zero on the final day.

Post-event analysis showed that overall competitors were 60/40 in favour of eTally by phone. That was 70/30 at eTally afloat time shifting to almost exactly 50/50 for eTally ashore. You can see how that makes sense.

So a highly successful first outing for Kiosk and, most importantly, all competitors were accounted for, and the safety team stood down, in record time. Mission accomplished.

Friday 29 September 2023

Introducing eTally Kiosk

In our previous post we looked at why tallying is an important factor for competitor safety, and how eTally by phone is a logical progression. Now we are introducing eTally Kiosk - a new way for competitors to sign afloat and ashore.

Think of Kiosk as a communal, shared version of eTally by phone, available on a tablet computer strategically positioned in your clubhouse.

Before racing, competitors walk up, identify themselves, say they are sailing, make way for the next person.

Once ashore, it’s the same but they can also declare whether they finished, or not.

Here’s the process in pictures

Identify  2:Confirm  3:eTally  4:Next person

Kiosk doesn’t replace eTally by phone, the two coexist and people can mix and match as suits them best.

It runs in any web browser and on any internet connected device but is targeted at touch-screen tablets. Chrome on a 10 inch Android tablet is a good bet.

Looking for an event to give Kiosk some serious beta testing, we decided on Chichester Harbour Race Week at Hayling Island. 400 competitors over a 5 day regatta should be tough enough!

And how did it go? Very well indeed. The competitors loved it and the kit was trouble free.

Or to be precise, very, very nearly trouble free! The gory, and amusing, details will be revealed in a subsequent post.

Meanwhile, Kiosk is available for you now. See the eTally Kiosk Help topic for how to use.

Sunday 24 September 2023

Tallying – Traditional Technology: Updated

 I counted them out and I counted them all back in again.”

This famous quote from a Falklands War reporter sums up a simple technique that’s long been used to account for people, livestock, any items that depart and are expected to return.

To this day counting competitors is a mainstay of sailing event safety management: you know who has gone afloat and you know who has come back. If the two lists don’t match then search procedures kick in.

The familiar tally board works well when competitors are known, controlled and relatively few in number. When you have a long entry list and can’t be sure who is going to turn up, or you need them to declare whether, or not, they sailed the course, then signing sheets are the way to go. But then you have the problem of comparing scribbles!

SailEvent eTally replaces signing on paper with everyday technology – mobile phones. 


Then the clever thing is that SailEvent collates and compares, in real time, the lists of those who went sailing with those who have returned. Any discrepancy is immediately obvious.

These screenshots are from the SailEvent Race Team app taken during the ‘Admirals Cuppa’, an invitation event for illustration only!

Now apply the all important afloat but NOT ashore filter and where’s Rodney!?

Time to start looking for him.

In this blog post we’ve shown how SailEvent’s eTally feature brings today’s thinking to traditional tallying.

In our next post we introduce a new, connected alternative to eTally by phone.

Monday 15 May 2023

SailEvent eLocate is going into semi-retirement

General availability of the eLocate feature is being withdrawn on 31st May.

The feature has been little used and its continuance in its present form is no longer viable. Additionally its presence within the app is a distraction from SailEvent‘s core functionality.

This means that for most clubs eLocate will cease to be visible within the SailEvent service from that date. However it can be re-enabled for individual clubs on request. If you do wish to use eLocate, please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

All other SailEvent features and functions continue to operate as normal.

But the technology that powered eLocate is excellent so the good news is that we are repurposing it to introduce a significant new feature. Watch this space for further announcements.

Thursday 16 March 2023

SailEvent and HalSail Integration

We are introducing a change to the way HalSail, the sailing event scoring service, and SailEvent are linked. This makes the connection both more robust and more flexible.

With effect from 12:00 UTC on Monday 20th March 2023, SailEvent competitions will link to HalSail events. (Previously competitions linked to groups of like-named series.)

After that time, users of SailEvent/HalSail integration should 

  • Create events in HalSail (>Schedule >New event)
  • Add their existing HalSail series to them (>Add a series)
  • Link their existing SailEvent competitions to the events (>Competitions >select competition >HalSail event> Save)

Sorry to ask you to do this but it’s a 5-minute job and your current data will be unaffected.

This change reflects the growth in SailEvent/HalSail integration to bring you seamless end-to-end club racing and sailing event management in the cloud with 

  • Online entries
  • Online noticeboards 
  • Electronic sign on/off
  • Real-time finish recording
  • Results on the web
  • And more